Rowing club seeks facility

MARQUETTE – Petition signatures from a local group opposed to the location of a boathouse at Founders Landing were presented to city staff at the Marquette City Commission’s Monday meeting.

Rita Hodgins, representing the Marquette Citizens for City Lakeshore Preservation, presented 142 in-person signatures and 64 online signatures on a petition requesting the commission withdraw its support for the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club boathouse at Founders Landing.

The commission in March voted 6-1 to have a license prepared for the club to built a boathouse.

“One thing we want to make very clear is that we have absolutely no issue with the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club,” Hodgins said. “We support them. We applaud them. We admire them for what they’re doing. We think it’s great for our community.”

However, the petition also states the commission should take back its support to be

consistent with the Lakeshore Development Task Force’s final report in 1998 that concluded no development occur east of Lakeshore Boulevard to the waterfront within the city limits.

UPCRC President Kelly Drake Woodward said the public is invited to four upcoming club open houses at Founders Landing: two from noon to 2 p.m. May 3 and 31 and two from 5 to 7 p.m. May 14 and 21. She said information about the project and the club will be available.

People have been led to believe, Woodward said, the club is exclusive.

“So, please, don’t ignore the most important word in our name, which is ‘community,'” she said. “We are recognized as public outdoor recreation providers in the Marquette area in your city recreation plan.”

Marquette Police Chief Mike Angeli said he’s continuing to work with the club regarding details of the boathouse.

The boathouse would be home to the UPCRC as well as the Northern Michigan University rowing team. The inside of the building, expected to be a high-quality masonry structure built into a hill, would contain club and NMU rowing shells and equipment.

The structure also would provide outside space for non-motorized public boat users and would have an observation deck and a “living green roof” to control water runoff.

On Monday, the commission approved a lease agreement between the city and the UPCRC for space rental that will run from May 1 through Nov. 1. The rent, according to the agreement, will be 75 cents per square foot, with the club using 556 square feet for a total rental amount of $417 for the term of the lease.

The club will use the area only for storing trailer and rowing shells and to launch and retrieve shells from the beach area before, during and after rowing sessions.

Sara Cambensy, who cast the negative vote in March, had said her opposition to the project had nothing to do with the club but instead with the location.

Monday she reiterated her position.

“I think they’re a fabulous group,” Cambensy said, “but if you look at the documents throughout the years, it took us a long time to even get to a compromise on preservation, and I still think that’s a strong threat in our community.”

Cambensy asked her commissioners to conduct public forums on the issue.

“I think it would benefit both sides,” she said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.